SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 2012-13 Santa Clara women's tennis team saw firsts this year from the beginning of the preseason in September to the postseason at the NCAA Singles Championships in May. With program history made and records broken, the goals and expectations are once again set high for next season's squad.
The Broncos finished the season with a 12-10 overall record and a 8-2 record in the West Coast Conference, ending the season at the top of the WCC standings, a first under head coach Ben Cabell and the first program title in school history. Santa Clara broke into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings at No. 58 on April 9. The season finished in the semifinal match at the WCC Championships as the No. 3 seed Broncos fell to No. 2 seed Pepperdine.
"Overall we performed better this year than last year, so our expectations will continue to rise going into next season," said Cabell. "The effort the team put into this season and this tournament were phenomenal."
Seven Broncos received WCC Honors for both their athletic and academic achievements. Cabell was also chosen as WCC Co-Coach of the Year for the first time in his six years of coaching. "I've always been so proud of our academic standing for the entire team at Santa Clara," said Cabell. "This is a nice recognition by the conference of the great work they do in the classroom. Getting WCC Coach of the Year is a huge honor and I am very appreciative, but we would not have had the level of success that we experienced this season without the girls. They really earned it."
Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of the successful 2012-13 season was when junior Katie Le received an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Singles Championships in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. It was her second consecutive individual selection to the prestigious tournament that takes 64 of the top singles players in the country. Last year, Le was the first-ever tennis player at Santa Clara to qualify for NCAAs, and this year she was the first player to win a match at the Singles Championships.
In the first round, No. 26 Le edged out No. 30 Emina Bektas of No. 10 Michigan, 7-6(3), 7-5. In the second round, Le found herself up against the No. 3 seed from No. 7 UCLA, Robin Anderson. Le battled in the first set, winning four games in a row and breaking her opponent's serve twice, but the set and the match ended in Anderson's favor ending Le's NCAA run by a score of 7-6(1), 6-2.
"Getting my first NCAA win was a great feeling," said Le after the match. "I knew I needed to play well to beat Anderson, but she didn't give me anything and came out even stronger in the second set."
With her third season behind her, Le has posted some of her highest numbers and greatest victories. She never dropped below No. 32 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings and ended the dual season ranked No. 26 in the nation—her highest ranking ever. She defeated the two-time defending NCAA singles champion, Nicole Gibbs of Stanford, by a score of 6-7(1), 6-3, 1-0(8) on April 3. She also beat then-No. 9 Anett Schutting of No. 7 Cal on Jan. 20 6-3, 6-1 at the Cal Winter Invite. On top of all of this, she holds a cumulative 3.79 grade point average (GPA) as a computer engineering major.
"I'm really proud of Katie and everyone on the team," said Cabell, the 2013 WCC Coach of the Year. "It was a great overall experience at the NCAA Championships and season at Santa Clara this year. It's never fun to lose the last match, but overall I'm really proud of Katie and all that she has accomplished in her junior season. I'm excited for next year."
This season the Broncos saw breakout performances by their two newcomers Delphine Rouvillois and Chelby Cooke. From Lyon, France, Rouvillois joined the team in January. and went on to post an 11-6 singles record at the No. 5 spot and a 10-9 doubles record with partner Stephanie Skaras at the No. 3 spot for the Broncos. Cooke, a Bakersfield, Calif. native complied a 13-7 singles record playing mainly at the No. 4 position and tallied a five-match winning streak from March 2 to March 28.
The four seniors, Jessica Agra, Kelly Lamble, Maggie McGeorge, and Alex Zaniewski, have helped this program achieve the school's highest-ever ITA ranking in 2012, the first regular season trophy, and each have impressive career records playing at the top positions for the Broncos. Lamble stands at No. 3 all-time for most career singles victories with a 65-57 record. With doubles partner McGeorge, the duo holds the No. 1 all-time doubles victories with a record of 58-40 over the past four years. Agra and Le come right behind at No. 2 all-time with a 41-31 doubles record over three seasons.
They all attribute two exciting upset wins over then-No. 53 San Diego, 6-1, and then-No. 40 Saint Mary's, 4-3, on senior day as their most memorable weekend.
"They were my first big recruiting class as head coach, and I'm incredibly proud of all of them and what they have accomplished," said Cabell. "They have all improved their tennis a great deal, but even more importantly, they came in as young freshman and are leaving as mature adults."
As a team throughout the 2012-13 season, the Broncos defeated three ranked opponents and ended the season ranked No. 65 in the nation. With four seniors leaving this team this year, the women look to build upon this season's success and become even a bigger threat in the WCC for the next year.
WCC Co-Coach of the Year: Ben Cabell
WCC First Team Singles: Katie Le
WCC Honorable Mention Singles: Chelby Cooke, Kelly Lamble
WCC Second Team Doubles: Jessica Agra/Katie Le
WCC All-Academic Team: Kelly Lamble, Katie Le
WCC Honorable Mention All-Academic Team: Maggie McGeorge, Carolina O'Haren, Stephanie Skaras
WCC Player of the Month: Katie Le (November)
2013 WCC Preseason All-Conference Team: Katie Le
2013 WCC Regular Season Title – First in Santa Clara women's tennis history